The future of the left since 1884

Scottish voters want change but not for its own sake

Scottish voters want change but not for its own sake writes Graeme Downie, parliamentary candidate for Dunfermline & West Fife.



I was delighted to be selected to be the Scottish Labour candidate for the seat where I live, Dunfermline & West Fife, likely to become Dunfermline & East Ochils after boundary changes.


It it is a very winnable seat in a General Election, but also could be a proving ground for a number of the messages the Labour Party need to get right if Keir Starmer is to become Prime Minister and have a majority which will allow real change across the country.


First, geographically, Dunfermline and West Fife is positioned perfectly to be a hub for growth, with Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and Perth all within easy reach and the River Forth providing access to the North Sea.


Second, it is highly mixed and diverse. From former coal fields to the west, industrial sites at Rosyth, professionals services, customer services and the logistical giant of the Amazon distribution centre as you move east across the constituency.


It is also home to Fife College and integrated learning campuses under construction which can train and educate people of all ages to drive forward future success. All of this shows the constituency is a fertile ground for economic expansion, innovation and growth.


Finally, it is an area with one foot in the past, as the historical capital of Scotland, but that is looking towards the future as Scotland’s newest city, with the status officially conferred by King Charles last year.


Demographically, it represents the new heartlands of Scotland that Labour must win if it is to win big again in Scotland.   Primarily, young aspirational professionals on low to middle incomes perhaps in their first home, working hard to make ends meet.  Many may have voted SNP but are now frustrated with years of declining services and hard hit by a cost of living crisis.


They are not only looking for change but living in a place with all the ingredients to embrace that change and become a driving force for the rest of Scotland.


If we are to achieve that, we must not be modest when selling the potential of the area and its people. Nor should we be bashful about the scale of our ambition. Dunfermline can succeed by advancing what we are known for, be that defence engineering, manufacturing and maintenance, heritage and tourism or professional services.


The past 13 years of Tory government at Westminster and 16 years of SNP government at Holyrood has been characterised by areas being told success is only possible after something else happens first.


We were told by George Osborne that the pain of austerity that was required for growth, by the SNP that independence was needed for success and then again by Brexiteers that it was leaving the EU that was needed before people’s ambitions could be fulfilled.


The challenge for the Labour Party during a campaign and then in government will be to show that there is no barrier to success. That people in Dunfermline and West Fife and across Scotland can be ambitious for themselves and their family, that there are opportunities for them and that their aspirations can be met.


Dunfermline is one of the places in Scotland where that success will be most evident under a Labour government and it is for all of us to go and show people that we share their ambition, that we are on their side and that they can succeed.

Graeme Downie, is the Parliamentary candidate for Dunfermline and West Fife and currently Councillor for West Fife & Coastal Villages.

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